Three students from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) at NUS took second place at the most recent Sustainable Trade Challenge organised by the Hinrich Foundation and the Association for Pacific Rim Universities, and supported by United Nations ESCAP and the Asian Development Bank. The competition, based on the Sustainable Trade Index Report 2018 jointly published by the Foundation and The Economist, challenged the participating graduate student teams from 98 universities in 27 countries to develop policy proposals or industry solutions based on issues that affect trade sustainability in Asia Pacific.
Hao Nan, Binil Mathew and Devyani Chaturvedi, Master’s students at LKY School, proposed a pioneering vocational tertiary education model for India using Social Impact Investment. Social Impact Investment is widely recognised and applied by various leading development organisations and governments across the world. The mechanism combines capital and expertise from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to achieve a social objective.
“Our decision to work on India’s skill development came from an understanding that though the Indian economy has witnessed rapid trade growth in the last decade, skill gaps act as a constraint on the productivity of India’s massive young labour force,” said Hao Nan, adding that vocational education would bring workers out of the informal and unorganised sector and prepare them with future-oriented skillsets necessary in a changing world.
The team proposed a platform providing functions such as education and training, job matching, and certification. Taking note that India’s personal electronic device penetration rate is not high, the functions were all proposed to be available for both offline and online access. The project could provide incentives for job generation and diversification of India’s service sector.
Working on the project really deepened the trio’s understanding of the importance of trade sustainability, said Hao Nan. “Trade has become a primary cornerstone for peace and prosperity in Asia Pacific. From a public policy perspective, trade would facilitate the exchange of management experience, professionals and technologies between nations and further lead to national prosperity. From an International Relations perspective, economic interdependency brought by tight trade relations would lead to lasting peace,” he added.